Children's Centre saved from axe in council shake-up
to close two thirds of Somerset's children's centres have been unanimously
agreed by county councillors this week - but Highbridge's centre
has been saved from the cuts.
centre in Highbridge's Coronation Road is one of eight that will
retain its Sure Start Childrens Centre designation and become
a 'family centre'.
Somerset County Council Cabinet members met at County Hall in Taunton
on Monday to agree the plans, which form part of a wider shake-up
of family services.
Sure Start centres will be replaced with eight 'family centres',
which will co-ordinate work in the surrounding areas.
40 protesters, including health workers, gathered outside ahead
of Monday's meeting to protest against the plans, with the Unite
union saying the changes risk "wrecking a great service".
County Council spokesperson told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "Highbridge
will be one of the eight buildings which will retain their Sure
Start Childrens Centre designation for the purposes of Department
for Education registration. The other 16 buildings will have their
Childrens Centre designation removed, but still offer early
childhood services including education and nursery places."
and Highbridge's former Lib Dem MP, Tessa Munt, told Burnham-On-Sea.com:
"It's good to see Highbridge Children's Centre is safe for
the moment, but it is a deep concern to see other centres losing
their Childrens Centre designation. By merging the council
services into fewer buildings, the overall provision to is being
weakened and diluted."
added: "Given that the County Council's Cabinet has decided
to save Highbridge Children's Centre based on local need, surely
the same criteria must now apply to Highbridge Library too and it
will be retained because of local need?"
week's decision by the County Council follows a period of public
consultation in the autumn. It brings together the Councils
'getset' service which includes Childrens Centre services
- and the support offered by Health Visitors and School Nurses,
with more emphasis on delivering support in community venues and
Member for Children and Families, Councillor Frances Nicholson,
said: "These plans are all about making it easier for people
to get the support they need so we can prevent small problems becoming
big ones, and that is something we all want."
support is important and valued and I thank everyone who took part
in the consultation. The feedback has helped our thinking and highlighted
areas where more work is needed, but we firmly believe that these
proposals are still the best way forward for families and children
across the county."
changing status of buildings does not mean a reduction in support
and the hundreds of activities that are there now will carry on.
I understand that some people are anxious, but this is about doing
things better, and the next steps will be taken carefully and at
the right pace."
also agreed to bring the employment of the county's health visitors
and school nurses in-house from April 2019. In a letter to the authority
last month, health visitors expressed "heartfelt concerns"
about the changes which would bring them under the umbrella of the
new council-run service.
which represents the majority of the 200 affected staff, said it
believes a "hidden agenda of cost-cutting" was behind
following buildings will be de-designated as Sure Start Childrens
Centres: Victoria Park, Bridgwater; Hamp, Bridgwater; Brock House,
Norton Fitzwarren; The Hollies, Taunton; Wellington; Bishop's Lydeard;
Alcombe, Minehead; Little Vikings, Watchet; Birchfield, Yeovil;
Oaklands, Yeovil; Chard Little Marsh, Ilchester; Balsam Centre,
Wincanton; The Bridge Centre, Frome; The Link Centre, Coleford;
and The House, Shepton Mallet.
is not included in the changes as it is not a Sure Start centre.